Sunday, June 23, 2013

Software development is such a new field?

Software 'engineering' is not such a new field anymore, is it? After all we have been writing software since the late forties – so our field is more than sixty years of age.

Strangely enough, I keep hearing the argument that this is such a young field of engineering and we "don't yet have the experience to make it an exact science."

Is that really true?
How about building planes? That's quite a new field as well, right? If we start the timeline with the Wright brothers, we would have to start in 1903 (if you'd want start with Otto Lilienthal I'll raise you a Babbage – and I would answer a DaVinci with a Leibnitz – or even a Pingala if I have to. So, just for the sake of the argument let's stick with powered flight and 1903). So the Boing 747 – which had it's inaugural flight in 1969 and is still in service with many airlines – was designed when the craft of building planes was roughly the same age as the craft of building software is today.

And I doubt that you would refrain from stepping aboard a Jumbo-Jet because it was designed at a time where "the field of aircraft development was still very young and the results where not always predictable."

So I think, we should put more emphasis on the things we already can do – let's not complain that our internet connections is slow on a transatlantic flight – let's be amazed that we do have an internet connection on a transatlantic flight!

And let's not complain that software development is not determinedly predictable but let's embrace all the techniques we do have to manage and navigate this uncertainty.

In essence: we do have the tools – we just have to use them!

BTW: When Tom Breur and I designed the hands-on lean and agile practices course we found that there are so many tried and proven practices even from our own hands-on experience that we had to actively limit the number of practices to make it a digestible sized course.

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